She's Not Your Typical Nun

Sister Michelle Halm CBS

Sister Michelle Halm is truly a nun of a different order.

"I know some people say 'you're not the typical nun'. But, it's not like I'm trying to be a typical nun," she told CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod.

At 31, she's a sister with a cell phone and a big cup of Starbucks. She's also one of the daughters of St. Paul who reaches out to young Catholics on the streets of Chicago.

"They're saying, 'You know what? I'm struggling with loneliness. My best friend just got killed. I'm struggling with drug addiction, with sex addiction. What do I do?' When you boil it all down -- they're trying to find happiness inside," she says.

Sister Michelle decided to become a nun after college, and after having lived in the secular world.

Looking at her spare living quarters, Axelrod questions what she had envisioned for herself before joining the order.

"I envisioned one of those big flats, actually -- on Michigan Avenue, in one of the high rises overlooking the lake," she says.

But her calling led her to a tiny room, and a life of celibacy, obedience and poverty.

Still, Halm doesn't let her vows dictate how she approaches her mission or chain her to the stereotypes of past generations.

"I can't imagine you rapping anyone's knuckles," says Axelrod.

"No I don't do that … you know it's not like that," she says. "It's really entering into respect for each other, and deep love."

At the headquarters of her order, nuns who are also licensed engineers produce radio shows to get their word out. Forty or 50 young women come to the Daughters each year to take a look. Only a handful decide to stay.

"When you consider that we take vows of poverty, celibacy, and obedience, and when we look at the popular values of our culture which glamorizes sex, money, and power, really it does become a hard sell," says Brother Paul Bednarczyk.

Halm is magnetic and modern, and as effective a recruiting tool as the church could hope for. Still, she looks at her simple life in simple terms.

"It doesn't mean there are not ups and downs. Tough days, just like anybody else. But, basically, I just found inside, that peace," she says.

Peace found from an age-old calling fewer than ever are hearing.
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter